Sunday, June 28, 2009

Low cloud, inversions and frost and things

We've had a week now of inversion cloud sitting low over Wanaka town. It really is warmer up on the ski areas than down at lake level.

However traveling up a little to where the land meets the cloud is well worth the effort from a landscape photography perspective.

By the entrance to the Snow Farm, Cardrona Valley...

The Branch Burn up the Cardrona Valley...


A dead tree on top of the Crown Range pass. It's always intrigued me and I've made photos of it in the past. The monuments mark and record the early history of the use of this expedient high altitude road route from Wanaka to Queenstown...

This week's nice web site: Three days exploring Lake Manapouri, New Zealand, by photographer Bill Hatcher

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The magic of winter

We've had some stunning days lately as a high pressure system sits over us. Usually when this happens we get an inversion - a low layer of cloud that excludes the sun from shining on our Wanaka town. However for whatever reason we've had the stunning frosts that occur sans inversion, and glorious days of bright and welcome sunshine. That is until today.

However the escape is to drive up one of the ski area roads and since the Snow Farm nordic area opened officially yesterday I [officially] began my 2009 ski season yesterday. My forty third it seems.

What an inversion looks like from above...

Vicky and Eric were there - old buddies from my Mt Cook days. Vicky and I often ski together, so it was great to get back into the swing of things...

Vicky at the Bob Lee hut. It's not often we can sit in here and relax as it's exposed and at high enough altitude to catch whatever wind is about...

From the Bob Lee hut, looking towards Lake Wanaka, you look right across the Criffel Range. I've done a lot of wandering down there amongst New Zealand's highest altitude gold workings. It's a fascinating area overlooked by all and sundry...

Late today the inversion was still sitting over Lake Hawea...

This morning driving up to the Snow Farm I was keen to do some landscape photography of a particular shot I had in mind. This one I eventually made is looking across at Mt Cardrona [inc. ski area] and was not quite what I had in mind, but landscape photography is often like that...

This weeks recommended blog is by my good friend Geoff - on Sat. he was across the valley from the Snow Farm ski touring behind Cardrona Ski Area, and he made some nice photographs >>

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Clutha River wanderings

When the sun looked like dissipating the inversion cloud this morning I packed a lunch and Dougal and I headed off for a walk, heading yet again on further personal exploration of the Clutha River near home.

Looking west towards Black Peak and Treble Cone, while we walked in hope of the cloud letting the sun shine on us...

Further downstream past Reko's Point, and looking south to the end of the Pisa and Criffel Ranges...

It had been bothering me - just who was Reko? I knew the name and then I recalled he was the guide of Surveyor J.T. Thomson:

He persuaded Reko of Tuturau to guide him from Otago to Canterbury by an inland route. In September 1853, he, Reko and another Maori companion set off up the Mataura and the Nokomai valleys and over the hills to the Nevis and Kawarau valleys. They crossed the Kawarau River on the natural rock bridge and went downriver to the flats above Cromwell. They made their way to Wanaka and Hawea, before Chalmers, who was exhausted, gave up any idea of going further, and the group returned by raft down the Clutha River (McClymont 1959: 70). More on the New Zealand Dept of Conservation website

Thomson was an accomplished artist and I found a picture he made of a spooky crossing of the Mataura River with Reko on the web site

As we walked I asked Dougal to consider that there are people that want to dam this amazing river and drown the landscape. I think he had trouble grasping this and I guess age 16 has not given him enough time yet to ponder the losses I've seen...

I've paddled this river in a past life, camping on the way and that was adventure enough. It must have been something else for Reko, Thomson and Chalmers to build their own raft and head off, bobbing along at speed as the craft became water-logged, and not have much of a clue as to what lay ahead. On many stretches of the river it's really hard to get into the edge as boil ups keeping pushing upwards denying access...

Locally so many of us have concerns about ill conceived ideas to mess up this planet, rivers and all that we live on - and everyone is a local relevant to where they live, so in a wider and more global context take some time please to check out the movie "home"on youtube by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. It has beautiful imagery of our mother earth and commentary of our evolution into where we have brought our planet to today. It's free on the web for a few more days [and is a 1.4 Gb download so it is not a short one].

Last week I found some stellar GPS software for my iPhone for about $NZ7 so we tried it out alongside my old GPS and found it remarkably good - nothing like a good day to play with new toys!

Dougal thought it was funny that the map is courtesy of the US Navy - us being inland and all that. This screen shot is of Reko's Point - I wonder if this is where they built the raft, as it's too close to Lake Wanaka to be the first night's camping spot. The green "init" maker is a way-point the phone generates each time it's turned on...

And this week's head's up is to cousin Deirdre's Tininn Lodge site where she has posted photos of her grand daughter Aleisha doing some part time modeling.

Note: Phil Lloyd commented on posts relating to the Nevis Valley and gold mining, and has since been in touch via email. Here is his story:

"I spent two summer holidays in the 1970's with Lex Maclean and his parents working a goldmine just after the gorge in the upper Nevis. His parents were quite elderly even then and had moved to Milton after the population in the Nevis had dwindled away but they still came back to work the mine each summer.

I met up with Lex in Clyde last winter and he said they have no photos of those days, despite having many travellers call in and take photos.

I undertook to try to track down some of those photos but have had no luck so far."

If you can help Phil please contact him:

+64 9 573 0421 or

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Using keywords to blog and draw attention to issues such as the renewed threat to the Clutha

Over the nearly two years I've been publishing this blog those of you original readers will note my subject matter has ranged somewhat, but been tied together by New Zealand landscape photography themes.

This has been a little deliberate as initially the whole concept was an experiment on how to use keywords to promote a web site, which is a part of my work. However before long family were the first to comment and their kind words prompted me to keep a limited public diary that has now grown into a useful place for approx. 100 readers per week to drop into.

The last few weeks many of you will have noticed a new theme: "Save Our Clutha River" [link to my previous post]. Well I'm unashamedly getting in early using keywords and phrases right here to attract visitors to links and photos, thereby raising awareness!

Today I did some more exploring of the Clutha - this time a curvy area known as Reko's near the Wanaka Airport. I figure it's now time to digitally document parts of this wonderful vibrant river and then publish often...

I can confirm to those of you with a landscape photography bent that I've tinkered somewhat playfully, breaking rules even, with exposure to bring out a tad of the low key look. It's just that the high quality tangental lighting of our early winter can be used on so many interesting levels when making a landscape image.


But wait there is more [we can do on Sundays]: This week's interesting heads up to Bob McKerrow's blog item "Mixed-gender dancing, drunkenness, and general merry-making on Sundays"

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